New Comcast Service Aims at Netflix as Video Wars Heat Up

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Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company, is launching a new video-on-demand service aimed squarely at Netflix, in a move that illustrates accelerating competition for advantage over the digital living room. The new service, called Xfinity Streampix, will be available to over 20 million Comcast subscribers, and will feature programs from the company’s NBC Universal subsidiary, as well as other media giants.

Comcast’s new service, which launches this week, significantly deepens the company’s library of popular older titles at a time when consumers are increasingly demanding video choices on their own schedule.

In addition to NBC Universal, which Comcast controls after purchasing a controlling stake last year, the cable giant has entered into licensing agreements with Disney-ABC Television Group (excluding theatrical movies), Sony Pictures, and Warner Bros.

Comcast said the new service will be available for free to Comcast customers who subscribe to many of the company’s triple-play internet-phone-cable packages, and will cost $4.99 per month for customers who subscribe to more basic plans. At that price point, Comcast is undercutting Netflix’s $7.99 streaming-only plan.

The company said it would offer the service across platforms including mobile devices and Microsoft’s XBox 360 video game console.

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“Our goal is to consistently deliver greater value to our customers and to bring the best anytime, anywhere entertainment on multiple platforms,” Marcien Jenckes, senior VP and GM for Video Services at Comcast, said in a statement. “Streampix is another step moving TV Everywhere forward by giving customers access to an even greater library of popular choices to watch.”

In addition to older movies, including “Ocean’s Eleven,” “When Harry Met Sally,” and “Brokeback Mountain,” the new service will feature past episodes of popular TV shows, like “30 Rock,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Heroes,” “Lost,” and “The Office.”

Comcast’s move to bolster its on-demand offering comes as various large players are jockeying for position to try to take a shot at Netflix, the streaming video leader, with some 22 million subscribers. Amazon is moving into the space with its Prime streaming product, and Verizon recently announced a partnership with Redbox to create a new streaming offering.